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How to Share Memories Online (While Still Keeping Your Kids Safe)

From birthdays and milestones to silly selfies on an ordinary Tuesday, parents have tons of opportunities to share aww-worthy moments online. But does sharing photos with family and friends on the internet put your family’s security at risk? It doesn’t have to!

Check out these tips for sharing those special moments with your loved ones while still keeping your kids safe.

Use the security features

Popular social networks Facebook and Instagram allow users to hide their photos and posts from anyone not on their friends list. As you’re using these platforms to share memories with loved ones near and far, use the security settings to control who sees them — and comb through your friends list to make sure you actually know everyone in your digital circle. Still not sure about hitting that post button? Check out the group messaging features on either platform to share your photos and videos with just a few close loved ones.

Share privately with smaller groups

Did you know there are entire social networking platforms built with your privacy in mind? Apps like Cluster and 23Snaps make it easy to share your photos with a tight and controlled group of people — so Aunt May gets the video of baby’s first steps, but that Facebook friend you haven’t talked to since 7th grade does not. Added bonus: Both of these apps also make it easy to get pictures off your phone and into your hands with the option to create and print simple family albums!

Skip the geotags

It may seem obvious to say you shouldn’t share too much of your child’s identifying info online, but the geotagging features on some social media sites make it easy to do just that without a second thought. For example, geotagging photos from your child’s birthday party can immediately reveal your child’s name, birthdate and location to the general public. If you do decide to share photos publicly, consider skipping the geotags to keep your child safe from those who could otherwise use that identifying information to open unwanted accounts in their name.

Think long-term

It’s tempting to share all the memorable moments you get to enjoy with your little one, even if it’s just to have a record for your own sake down the road! But if you’re posting publicly, consider whether your kids would want those posts popping up when they’re starting to date, apply to colleges or search for jobs. Share happy family memories online, but try to keep private those shots and stories that seem innocent enough now but could be embarrassing down the road — like bath time, potty training developments or temper tantrums.

Talk with your kids

Yes, using social media and the internet safely requires some wisdom and intentionality, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip out on them all together. After all, your child will soon be using these same platforms on their own. And that’s a good thing! The internet is full of amazing tools for sharing photos, connecting with loved ones and much, much more. Prepare your child to use the best of the internet safely by modeling good practices and inviting them into the conversation now. Ask your kids what they’d like you to share (or not) before posting and discuss how you’re taking steps to protect them as you share those happy memories with loved ones near and far.

With smart practices and a secure connection, the internet can be a great tool for connecting with loved ones. Contact Sacred Wind Communications at 877-722-3393 today to make sure you have the strong, secure, and reliable internet you need to share special memories with those who matter most.

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5 Kid-friendly Streaming Platforms You’ll Want for Holiday Break

Will the long, cold, and sometimes boring days over holiday break have your kids reaching for their screens? A bit of screen time here and there doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And with family-friendly streaming platforms, you can rest assured that your kids are watching videos safe for little eyes—even without your constant oversight.

Plan ahead for those much-needed moments of peace, quiet, and screen time now by downloading these family-friendly streaming platforms today.

PBS KIDS Video

With the award-winning, educational PBS KIDS Video app, you don’t have to feel guilty about letting your kids indulge in some screen-time this holiday break.

Little ones love how easy it is to watch live TV in the app or play their favorite shows on-demand, including Curious George, Daniel Tiger, and Sesame Street. And parents love how the “Weekly Pick” feature suggests a fresh set of videos geared toward keeping young brains mentally engaged even while out of school. Best of all, this app is totally free!

DisneyNOW

With all the talk lately about the new Disney Plus streaming platform, don’t overlook the kid-friendly DisneyN

OW! This app provides access to the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Radio Disney, and Disney Junior in a few taps.

Simple thumbnails of favorite characters make it easy for kids to quickly find the shows and games that feature that character… which makes it easy for you to savor a few m

ore moments with a steaming cup of coffee. You’ll need a TV-provider login for total access, but some content is available for free.

YouTube Kids

You probably haven’t thought of YouTube as a very safe option for unmonitored screen time. And you were mostly right… until now.

YouTube Kids has been designed with kids in mind (think big images and eye-catching bright colors). More importantly, robust parental control settings make it much more kid-friendly than the original site. It even comes complete with a timer option, so parents can limit screen time in just a few taps.

Amazon FreeTime

Can’t decide if you want your kids to have access to Disney, PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, music, games, Audible books or something else more on the educational side? With Amazon FreeTime, you don’t have to decide. This platform offers all of the above and more.

Parental controls make it easy to set a certain age range, allow only parent-approved purchases, and lock games and videos until educational goals are reached. Your kids will love the easy access to popular Amazon originals, such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Tumble Leaf. And you’ll love that you can add this to your Prime membership for just $2.99 a month!

Nickelodeon

With Nickelodeon, you can choose between not one, not two, but three different apps. Nick, Nick Jr., and Noggin each have their own platform.

Kids’ favorites like Peppa Pig, Blues Clues, and Dora the Explorer can be accessed for free (with a TV log-in) on the Nick and Nick Jr. apps. For just $7.99 a month, Noggin offers a plethora of interactive games, popular shows, and videos that promote learning with a wide variety of topics such as shapes, numbers, letters, art, music, manners, and more.

It’s no secret that screen time can help you keep the peace on long winter days—but that peace will be gone faster than you can say “Bah-humbug” if a game or video stops to buffer! (Why is it always during the most inconvenient moment possible?!)

Save yourself that headache and call Sacred Wind Communications at 877-722-3393 today to ensure your internet connection will work when you need it most!

 

Smart Education Resources for At-Home Learning

A growing number of parents are choosing homeschooling, or home-based education, in place of K-12 public or private school. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 1.6 million children were homeschooled in 2016. And with an endless array of free internet resources, including online courses, lesson plans, and interactive educational activities, homeschooling is becoming easier than ever.

With these free online resources, you can homeschool like a pro—or better help your public or private school children with their homework—without breaking the bank. Add high-speed internet from Connect66 Internet and a handful of smart devices, and you’ll be a techie teacher in no time.

Programs for Getting Started

Homeschool.com is a comprehensive guide to homeschooling and offers online community support. You can access an array of resources and services, including free printable educational activities and worksheets.

An easy A-to-Z guide to homeschooling, The Homeschool Mom includes links to some of the best online resources. You have access to local programs, lesson plans, and other popular topics. This program also offers parent reviews of various homeschool curriculums.

Free Online Courses & Lesson Plans

You can find thousands of online courses and lesson plans across many different subjects at Kahn Academy: Math, English, Science, Computer Programming, Art, History, Economics, and Finance, to name a few. Kahn has partnered with NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, the California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to provide specialized content.

TedED is an extensive online video library that features cool animation paired with great educational content. Popular video topics include: “Does Time Exist?”, “History Through the Eyes of a Chicken”, “Can You Solve the Leonardo Da Vinci Riddle?” and “A Day in the Life of an Egyptian Doctor.”

Want to balance education and religious life? Try All-in-One Homeschool. This Christian homeschool curriculum includes Reading, Math, Language Arts, Science, Bible, Computer, Foreign Languages, History, Art, Music, and PE. You can customize your child’s daily lessons based on their skill level and track their progress for each course.

Based on the Charlotte Mason method, Ambleside Online offers detailed schedules and resources customized to each child. You’ll also find an extensive digitized library and an online support forum.

CK-12 is a supplemental curriculum with high-quality digital textbooks that use videos and other interactive content to visualize abstract concepts. You can choose from English, History, and top-notch STEM content.

Free Online Resources by Subject

Math: Math Games, Corbett Math, Dragon Box, Dreambox, Math is Fun

Science: Exploratorium, NASA for Students, Steve Spangler Science, How to Smile

Reading and Language Arts: Project Gutenberg, Starfall, Read Write Think, Read Works

Whether you’re new to homeschooling, still thinking about it, or want to supplement your child’s classroom education, these digital resources paired with Connect66 Internet’ fast and reliable internet can turn your home into an interactive classroom!  Call us now at 833-463-0066 to get connected and start today!

Apps to Trust When Your Kids Are Sick

Why is it that children always get sick in the middle of the night…over a holiday weekend…when your only option is a slow, crowded emergency room? We can’t solve the problem of terrible timing, but we can show you some apps that make caring for a sick child just a little bit easier. Check out some of our favorites below.

1. Baby and Child First Aid

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Price: Free

Be prepared for any emergency with this app from the British Red Cross. Explore tips, animations, and videos to improve your first aid knowledge, then test what you know with built-in quizzes. You’ll need internet to download the app, but the app works offline for easy access to lifesaving information anytime, anywhere.

2. Sickweather

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Price: $2.99

If you’re a parent, you already know how illnesses can spread like wildfire among little ones. This app uses crowdsourcing and social listening to map reports of illnesses throughout your community, so you can steer clear of infection hotbeds. Download it to stop your kid’s next flu virus, pink eye, or head lice outbreak before it starts.

3. CVS Pharmacy

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Price: Free

Taking a sick child to the doctor is stressful enough. Once they’re finally seen and back in the car, the last thing you want to do is haul them into a pharmacy. The CVS Pharmacy app lets you refill and track prescriptions—and order them for curbside pickup—all from the palm of your hand. Plus, this app makes it easy to find nearby CVS MinuteClinics, view wait times, and even hold your place in line.

4. Kinsa

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Price: Free app, but you’ll need the QuickCare thermometer ($19.99) or Smart Ear thermometer ($39.99)

Kinsa’s smart thermometers send quick, easy, and accurate temperature readings straight to your phone. Then, the app instantly recommends age-appropriate next steps based on your child’s symptoms. Plus, it saves past temperature readings, symptoms, medicine dosages, and more—you know, all the important things you struggle to recall when the doctor asks!

5. ianacare

  • Available on iOS (Android coming soon)
  • Price: Free

While many of these apps are great for common childhood illnesses, children with chronic or terminal illness require extra support. With the ianacare app, you can easily communicate updates to your closest friends and family, coordinate care across multiple caregivers, and request the practical support you need from people who are eager to help but don’t know how.

These apps can be helpful resources when your kids are sick, but they require a reliable internet connection to work. Check with Sacred Wind Communications today to make sure you have the high-speed internet your family needs! And call us at 877-722-3393 to get your internet today!

These Free Apps Will Get Your Kids Moving

Don’t worry. We’re not here to lecture you on how much screen time your kids do or don’t need. Instead, we’re sharing five free apps (available for both iOS & Android) that make fitness fun and turn your screen time into play time.

1. Sworkit Kids

With customizable workouts for strength, agility, and flexibility, this app generates random exercises to get kids moving as they follow along with video tutorials. If your kids’ enthusiasm has you feeling inspired, join in the fun and download the original Sworkit fitness app, designed for teens and adults!

2. NFL PLAY 60

The American Heart Association and National Football League are on a mission to get your kids moving for 60 minutes or more every day, and this app is a great place to start. It features virtual experience challenges to get hearts pumping. Plus, users receive extra points for fun activities like going on a family walk, playing in the park, or riding their bike. They can then use those points to unlock NFL gear and customize their in-app avatar—a great incentive to keep users engaged and active.

3. Just Dance Now

Maybe you’ve seen the popular Just Dance game in arcades. Now, your kids can play it anytime and without a video game console. All you need is a smartphone and internet-connected screen to follow along with the choreography and dance to tons of popular music. Just be aware: Although the app is free, the number of free songs is limited, so your kids may ask to make some in-app purchases to keep the party going.

4. Zombies, Run!

This next app is sure to be a hit with your older, zombie-loving kids and teens. Just pop in your headphones to turn any run (or walk) into an epic storytelling adventure and race to escape the living dead breathing down your neck. Encourage your kid to run for fun or even set a goal to participate in their first 5K! If you’re worried about your children running with headphones, consider taking them to a local track where you can watch or even join in to make memories as you sweat.

5. Geocaching

Are you tired of reminding your kids to put down the screens and explore the great outdoors? With this app, you can both have your way. Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt where people hide small treasures, called “geocaches”, and share the coordinates in this app. Use the app to choose a local geocache, then embark on a fun adventure to find it as a family.

These apps are a great way to get your kids moving, but without high speed internet, you may find downloading them is more of an exercise in frustration. Call Sacred Wind Communications at 877-722-3393 today to make sure you have the fastest internet available in your area.

Understanding Speed Test Results

Testing the speed of your internet connection is easy, but it’s also easy to misunderstand the results. Your devices — TVs, routers, smartphones, laptops, desktops, etc. — have different capabilities, and you can get different results on each one, even while using the same internet connection.

This is particularly noticeable to users taking advantage of higher speed packages, like the 100 Mbps x 25 Mbps basic service now offered by Sacred Wind Communications.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating your speed test results:

HARD-WIRED VS. WIRELESS

That old-school cord-and-plug is simply more reliable than WiFi (wireless) connectivity. Even those super-fast 1 Gbps connections, now widely available across the country, won’t test out at higher than 500 to 700 Mbps when tested over WiFi. For the most accurate speed test result you must test with a hard-wired device.

Why? Because there are nearly endless variables that can negatively affect a WiFi signal, everything from nearby construction or the wireless printer in the home office to a baby monitor or microwave in use in the home.

Keep in mind that one limitation with a hard-wired connection is testing with a device that has a 100 Mbps NIC (Network Interface Card). This can cause you to consistently receive speed test results at 90-98 Mbps. Sacred Wind Communications recommends testing on a device that has a 1 Gbps NIC.

POSSIBLE PROBLEMS AFFECTING SPEED AND SPEED TESTS

Slow internet speeds are sometimes caused by malware such as adware and viruses. There are several free and inexpensive programs and apps to deal with that, and they’re important to use for many reasons.

This also sounds obvious, but it’s very easy to overlook any ongoing downloads or programs like video chat that may be turned on while you’re conducting a speed test on your device. Close these applications, reboot your device, and test again.

Even the browser you use — Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft’s new Edge, etc. — can affect your test speed. Try different browsers to see if that’s the case on your system.

If you have a WiFi extender, make sure you turn it off before you run a speed test. Otherwise, your computer may test the wrong connection.

This brings us to a final point about equipment. Technology advances constantly, and many older routers and computers simply cannot take full advantage of the blazing speed and bandwidth of today’s fiber broadband connectivity.

When you’re ready to upgrade your technology, make sure your new equipment has the network cards and internal processing power that can leverage the speed of market-leading fiber broadband like that from Sacred Wind Communications. And if you are ready to get connected or want that upgrade, make sure to call us!  We are ready to help you anytime!  You can reach us at 877-722-3393.

 

Keeping Your Kids Focused During Online Learning

Online learning is the “new normal” these days thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

And parents are quickly learning that it’s difficult to keep their students engaged with virtual school lessons. (Fortnite on the sly, anyone? Snapchat under the kitchen table?)

Luckily, an array of inexpensive apps can manage those distracting sites, helping kids stay focused and get that schoolwork done.

Check out the best of the bunch:

  • Kid-friendly unGlue links with a parent’s app to record and limit screen time spent on including videos, games and social media. Parents allot a daily amount of time for “entertainment.” Then, kids view how much time they get and earn more by completing preset chores. And if those homework assignments don’t get done?  Parents can turn off internet access completely via the app.
  • Other oh-so-clever blocking apps include Screentime, which allows parents to preset blocked times for school work time and Qustudio that tracks calls and texts (for Androids only). Another of our favorites: Norton Family. Its personal information protection (for Windows devices) blocks kids from disclosing sensitive information.
  • Older students come with their own unique online challenges. We’ve got a fun way to get them motivated. Forest features a picture of a tree, which grows the longer a student stays on task. Hard work pays off with the growth of a lush forest. But if they jump onto TikTok/YouTube/whatever? The tree is in virtual trouble, shriveling and losing leaves.
  • While tons of apps can help limit screen time, others teach kids how to be productive and manage their time. One of our favorites for preschoolers and early elementary students is the award-winning Choiceworks app, which helps children master daily routines and understand/control their feelings.
  • With kids online now more than ever, safety is a top priority. Zift offers a ton of parental controls, including real-time reports about online searches and newly installed apps as well as alerts when inappropriate content is viewed. And instead of just blocking questionable content, Zift’s award-winning filter determines if content is kid-friendly in real time.

With these helpful tools, combined with fast and reliable Internet from Sacred Wind Communications, you’ll be able to keep your kids focused and learning while at home. Call us today at 877-722-3393 and get connected today!

Guide to Online Mental Health Resources

There’s no denying the tremendous stress many Americans and their families are now facing.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the nation, adults are tossed into new roles as work-from-home employees, homeschooling parents and isolated caregivers. Children may suffer in unique ways, removed from their normal routines of school and play and limited in their ability to comprehend — much less respond — to their altered world.

Experts agree these unprecedented times are triggering anxiety, depression and other unwanted mental health conditions in many adults and children alike. Problems with sleep, eating and anger are also being reported.

The good news is many online mental health resources are helping families cope with the stress in new, healthy ways. Here are some resources worth checking out:

Online therapy is an internet-based service that connects you with a mental health professional to help with stress. Therapy sessions are budget-friendly and totally online, meaning you can do it from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Select a therapist that specializes in whatever issue you’re dealing with such as addiction or depression. Many of the services feature therapists who specialize in children and teen counseling.

Which online therapy site is right for you? There are literally hundreds to choose from. We suggest first trying the better-known sites that have track records, user reviews and are transparent about pricing and therapists’ qualifications. Check out BetterHelp and Talkspace.

Maybe you’re not in need of a therapist but would like some help winding down and relaxing. Luckly, many websites aim to help with meditation and mindfulness. Most are available as apps so you can get happier while on the go!

A few good ones to try: happify.com assigns simple tasks to get you thinking about gratefulness while teaching stress-busting strategies. Omvana.com offers a huge catalogue of meditation sessions, led by well-known instructors and authors. Pick and choose based on your needs that day. And don’t forget calm.com, a subscription-based app that allows you to pick a meditation goal each time, then calms your mind with relaxing music, nature sounds and beautiful natural scenery.

Exercise is a well-documented method to reduce stress while boosting both mental and physical health. But it can be hard to get motivated. And many are still wary of returning to the gym during coronavirus.

A solid alternative is online personal training. These platforms run the gamut. Some feature personal trainers and and fitness coaches who offer one-on-one online guidance and motivation to clients, working out with them in real time. Others offer a catalogue of pre-recorded classes users can pick from.

Looking for a personal trainer on your phone? Kickoff has it via live video, text and app. Into classes? Centr offers a wide range from soothing yoga to blood-pumping Body Pump classes. Help with meal prep is also available. Like to work out with weights? Keelo offers short strength workouts that can be tailored to your experience level.

All are good choices that will help you work up a healthy sweat without having to share gym equipment.

No matter which path your choose, you can count on Sacred Wind Communications to keep you connected when you need it most. Contact us at 877-722-3393 for all your internet needs!

 

remote learning

At Home Learning Strategies

This school year will certainly put a lot of stress on parents, who must unexpectedly navigate the virtual learning landscape on top of their jobs and other responsibilities. How do you keep students, who would prefer to think of the new school year as an extension of summer break, focused on learning?

In addition to having fast and reliable internet from Sacred Wind Communications to power all of your devices, here are a few other strategies to help your students excel during these at-home learning days.

Create a Routine

While the schools and teachers will certainly have a routine during the virtual school day, it is also important to develop a routine at home during the rest of the day. For instance, experts suggest adhering to a regular bedtime on school nights and structuring your morning similar to how it would be if you were attending school in person. This means waking up at a consistent time each morning that allows for breakfast and getting completely ready for the day before sitting down at the computer.

Designate a “Classroom” Space

Whether it’s a home office or the kitchen table, you should designate one specific area in the house as the virtual classroom. When choosing the space, keep in mind a few things:

  • It should be low traffic (i.e. not a busy thoroughfare in the house)
  • It should be away from the noise of everyday life
  • It should have easy access to a plug-in case your device’s battery gets low

Eliminate Distractions

Pets, toys and devices are constant temptations for students learning at home. That’s why it’s best to keep all of them out of your classroom space during the school day. Think of your child’s learning space at home as if it were their desk at school. Anything that would not be allowed on their desk or in their lap at school, should not be there at home either.

Be Mindful of “Screen Time” Overload

While it is good and productive screen time, the virtual school day still counts as screen time, and the simple fact is that staring at device screens for a long period of time is not good for anyone, much less children. Once the virtual school day is over, take a break from screens and spend a few hours offline. Be it playing outside, reading a book, or exercising, give your kids’ minds and eyes a rest from staring at a screen.

Make sure to get your internet through Sacred Wind Communications so you can get connected and keep learning! Call us at 877-722-3393 to get started today!

Education Week

What to Do for Families With Internet Access Too Slow for Remote Learning

From Education Week:

During the COVID-19 school building closures, big equity problems around internet access emerged.  But one layer of this equity issue went largely unexplored: Some households have access to the Internet, but only at slow speeds that make school tasks like videoconferencing or completing homework assignments next to impossible.

That’s especially true for families with multiple children, or for parents using the home internet while forced to work remotely during the pandemic.

The urgency to resolve these issues is high as many schools appear likely to continue remote learning for at least some students next school year.

Read the rest of the article

Sacred Wind Delivers First-Ever Fiber to Navajo Homes

Sacred Wind has completed the first-ever groundbreaking broadband fiber-to-the-home project to Navajo homes within a Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) development in the Huerfano Chapter. Sacred Wind is the first telecommunications company to provide fiber-to-the-home connectivity to homes on Navajo Lands. This breakthrough technology is delivering high-speed Internet to some of the most rural parts of New Mexico.